If you’re anything like the other 3 billion smartphone users in the world, you likely use your phone for just about everything. From checking the news to online banking, using your smartphone is probably an integral part of your day. But what happens when your phone begins acting strange and you can’t access the features you normally do? You may be asking yourself, “is my phone hacked?” Before you can find out for sure, take a look at our guide to learn the signs of a hacked phone and what to do if your personal device has been compromised.
The Dangers of Phone Hacking
When your phone is hacked, you run the risk of experiencing a serious attack depending on the goal of the hacker. Unfortunately, there are a variety of ways that cybercriminals can gain access to your smartphone. You could have used public Wi-Fi unprotected, or you may have accidentally opened up an email from a spam account. Other methods of phone hacking include:
- SIM swap
- Social engineering
No matter how a criminal managed to access your phone, it’s important to know the basics behind these attacks. Many individuals believe that their phone is safe from hacking if it is turned off, which is unfortunately not true. Some people even believe that you can be hacked over the phone and, although social engineering attacks can occur this way, it doesn’t qualify as a real “hack.” Regardless, it’s still vital to keep this information in mind as you learn more about whether or not your phone was hacked.
Is My Phone Hacked?
Determining whether your phone is hacked requires you to look for some signs of an attack. In many cases, the signs of a hacked phone will vary across different devices. Take a look at the following list of signs that your phone may be hacked:
- You notice frequent pop-ups and ads
- There are unfamiliar apps on your phone
- You notice calls and texts you didn’t make
- The battery power holds less of a charge
- Your data usage changes significantly
- Everything on your phone is running slowly
- Your phone turns on and off randomly
- Apps repeatedly crash or don’t load at all
If you notice any of these indications that your phone may be hacked, you may want to contact a tech support line or restore your phone to factory settings. You should also immediately update your passwords, if possible, to prevent the hacker from gaining access to other apps or accounts, such as your banking information.
What to Do if Your Phone is Hacked
So, you’ve identified a threat on your phone: now what? With a compromised device, you may feel like there’s nothing you can do. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that will help you remove a hacker from your phone. Let’s take a look below.
- Run antivirus and anti-malware software immediately
- Update all of your passwords (on devices and profiles)
- Turn off your hotspot, Bluetooth, and mobile data
- Warn your friends and loved ones about suspicious messages you may have sent
- Delete any unfamiliar applications
- Restore your phone to factory settings
Before you restore your phone to factory settings or trade it in for something that isn’t hacked, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to back up your device first. You don’t want to lose access to your photos, music, files, or contacts simply because a hacker compromised your phone. And if you do decide to reset your device or get a new one, you’ll want to make sure that you follow these tips for preventing phone hacking in the future.
How to Prevent Phone Hacking
Now that you know about the threat of phone hacking, let’s take a look at some of the best ways we’ve found to prevent hackers from accessing your device. While it is impossible to completely safeguard your phone against every possible attack, these tips can prevent many of them.
- Keep your phone locked with a passcode
- Turn Bluetooth off when it’s not in use
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi you don’t trust
- Turn off your personal hotspot in public
- Check the privacy settings on your device
- Don’t leave your phone unattended
- Use a reliable VPN
- Avoid opening messages, links, or attachments from suspicious accounts
With these tips in mind, you can easily avoid the complications that come with having a hacked phone. Although you can’t always see an attack coming, staying vigilant with the security of your device can make it easier to identify an issue and resolve it quickly.
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